Check the Building Site Plan

A building site plan is a map (or survey) of the property with all the trees and existing/proposed building structures marked.  Any trees that are to be removed will be noted on the plan along with their diameter at breast height (DBH).  You will want to make sure that all the trees to be removed are correctly marked and measured on the plan.  Quite often the site plan does not reflect all the trees that will be impacted or destroyed, and recompense for removed trees is calculated only for those trees marked for removal on the plan. A site plan that does not reflect the trees accurately or conform with what is required in the Tree Protection Ordinance may be appealed.

A building site plan should include the following elements:

  • A tree survey identifying the size, species, and location of all trees having a diameter at breast height (DBH) of six inches or more
  • Trees to be saved and trees to be destroyed
  • Identification of “boundary trees” on adjacent properties
  • Topography at two-foot contour intervals
  • Existing and proposed structures, including driveways and parking areas, water detention ponds, utilities, material staging areas, and all areas requiring cut or fill
  • The root save area (critical root zone) of each tree identified, along with a calculation of the percentage of the area to be impacted by construction
  • Location of tree protection fences
  • A proposed tree replacement plan must be included, as well as the manner that the newly planted trees will be watered  A paid maintenance contract may be required.
  • If a construction limit line is established on the plan it must also be established by a tree protection fence on site, beyond which no activity is allowed.

How to check the site plan:

  • Verify that trees marked as 'impacted' on the plan are correctly defined in terms of their placement on the property as well as their size and species.  "Impacted" means that the tree will suffer injury or destruction of more than 20% but not more than 33% of its root save area.  The root save area is found by drawing a circle around the tree that has a radius of 1 foot for each 1-inch DBH, or diameter at breast height, of tree.  For example, a tree with a DBH of 20 has a root save area of 20 feet around the tree.  Another way to quickly determine whether the root save area is being encroached upon is to imagine that the roots of the tree extend as far out underground as the branches extend overhead.
  • Verify that trees marked as "lost" on the plan are correct as well.  A "lost" tree is any tree that will suffer injury or destruction in excess of 33% to root save area or is otherwise not protected according to the provision of the ordinance.
  • If you need to measure any trees on site, take a tape measure and wrap around the trunk of the tree at 4 1/2 feet from the ground.  Then, divide this number by 3.14 to calculate the DBH or diameter at breast height.  (diameter = circumference divided by 3.14).
  • Determine if any boundary trees are impacted (tree on the adjacent property whose root save area intrudes across the property line of the site under consideration).  Note these on your list and plan.  Include size and species.  Boundary trees are not to be "impacted" without the knowledge and consent of the owner of the boundary tree. 
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